Capital Region Water checks out storm drains after Harrisburg flash floods

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Harrisburg streets are much drier Thursday after a flash flood hit several neighborhoods Wednesday.

Thursday morning, some people were still outside, cleaning up the debris left behind in the wake of the storm.

During the storm, parts of Market Street near 14th Street looked more like a rushing river.

Capital Region Water community outreach manager Andrew Bliss said "two inches of rain, in about 20-30 minutes. Any storm like that is going to be difficult for any system to manage."

The water that swept through several Harrisburg neighborhoods one day, left streets anything but clean the next.

Volunteer Christopher Martin said "we went around picking up trash, picking up some landscaping. You can see on the driveway we picked up some, but the neighboring stone lot washed down, so we went and just did what we had to do."

Other church volunteers weren't the only ones armed with equipment to clean up what Mother Nature left behind.

Capital Region Water has a diesel-powered vacuum to clean out storm drains.

"It could suck up bricks, and it could even suck up a bowling ball if it was down there. Right now, we have a crew cleaning the inlet and we also have a crew that's going to come in and repair it," Bliss.

The fast moving current from the flood may have done more than overload the drains.

"They were inspected last night and today, and the inlets underneath the grate are clear, but the street flooding was caused in part because debris covered the surface of the drains," Bliss said.

Meanwhile, Martin is one of several people helping to fix up a church. He became sidetracked repairing storm damage, which just happens to have put him at the right place, at the right time.

"Right now, it's just pastor Ricardo doing a lot of it, so one of the blessings was, he had five people here to help him out, so he didn't have to single-handedly do it," Martin said.

"We all need to do our part by picking up litter, don't litter in the first place but if you see litter, pick it up," Bliss said.

Besides asking people to pick up trash on the street, Capital Region Water was out with a street sweeper cleaning the roadways.

Street sweeping keeps dirt and debris out of the sewer system, but it's also required as part of the water company's permit with the city.

Street cleanup is not the only thing people can do to help stop flooding.

"We're actually putting together a long-term control plan. We're modeling the system to identify where street flooding takes place. We're also getting public input on where people identify basement flooding, street flooding," Bliss said.

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